The Turbulent High School Years
The students of 2020-2022 have experienced some turbulent and probably difficult school changes. I can relate. Although we did not have Covid as a problem in 1965-1969, there were other sources of difficulty during my four years in four different high schools.
Naperville Community High School
I started high school in Naperville Illinois. It was a good suburban school, and I knew a lot of my fellow students. Then, in the middle of my freshman year, our family moved to Wisconsin. As a result, I finished my freshman year at “Pilgrim Park Middle School” in Brookfield, Wisconsin.
Pilgrim Park Middle School
This was a rough school primarily because of the commute. I am glad I was only there one-half year. The bus ride from New Berlin to PPMS was stressful. The bus driver really did not have control of the teen passengers. As a result, the daily ride to and from school was sometimes terrifying, at least to me. (They played “football” on the bus!)
I was a stranger thrown into a group of young teens who had known each other for some time. I did not fit in. I recall disliking just about everything about that time and was relieved when that school year was over.
I only remember one of the teachers because he was hip and understood teens. He said we would never forget his name, and he was right. His name was Mr. Busalacchi. The reason I remember it is that he said his name stood for “booze under lock and key.” However, I really don’t remember anything he taught except that perhaps he was the art teacher.
Brookfield Central High School
My sophomore year started at BCHS. Sadly, the teens there weren’t any different and the bus ride certainly wasn’t better. It was worse. Thankfully, I was rescued from this situation by a visit to the principal’s office in the middle of my sophomore year. The unexpected visit wasn’t due to my behavior. As it turns out, our address in New Berlin was really within the New Berlin School district, not the Brookfield district. Therefore, I needed to move to my fourth high school.
New Berlin High School
The school I went to was New Berlin High School. Thankfully, the bus ride to NBHS was nothing like the ones to Pilgrim Park and Brookfield Central. I also was able to finally have some friends during the next two and one-half years.
The Turmoil was Beneficial
As a result of the different schools I attended, the high school years have a mix of memories. I was not popular – unless someone needed help with science or mathematics. The girls would want to sit next to me, if only to tap into my brain. However, I did not participate in sports and did not belong to any of the clubs. I did play chess during the lunch hour with some friends in the German teacher’s classroom. But you could say that I lived an uninvolved life with just a few other geeky friends.
So why was this helpful? I believe God shook up my world so that I would change from being an average student to being more focused on learning and studying. I went from being a straight-C student to straight A’s. When I was a freshman at Naperville Community High School I was satisfied with “average” effort. I wasn’t much of a student in school number one but started to get more serious in schools two and three. By the time I landed in the four high school, I studied because I had very few friends.
Turmoil Often Brings Benefits
The same thing might have happened or is happening to students jostled about by the Covid lockdowns and mandates. In fact, I see another benefit that came from the lack of our ability to have unlimited international travel. When I first had an opportunity to go to India to teach, there were only a dozen students. Because of schedules, we could only spend about two weeks with the students. It was certainly good to spend time with them. But God had bigger plans.
After Covid struck, those who led the school in India started to offer classes online using Zoom. The number of students throughout India increased in each of the classes I taught. At times there have been 80-100 students. God used Covid to make more instruction available to more students for longer periods of time. That is just the way God works. Even in difficulties he is working for a good that we sometimes don’t see when we enter a season of difficulty! Teaching also requires preparation, so I learned more as I taught more.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:26-31 ESV
Looking Back and Looking Up
So, just as my tumultuous teen years were less than ideal, Covid was less than ideal. However, when I think about it, I can see some good that came from both of them. But this is only possible when I think about how God works.
A Tribute to Doris Martin Schieckel
One of the reasons Frau Schieckel was a great German teacher is that German was her native language. I have to wonder if she endured the horrible years of Nazi Germany. If she did, you could not see it in the way she treated her students. She wanted us to learn and she created a classroom environment where that was possible. I remember leaving her class and going to my locker. When I opened the combination lock, I would say the numbers to myself in German.
Doris Martin Schieckel, 86, of North Branford, Conn., formerly of Waukesha and Milwaukee, died peacefully Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006, at her home. She was born in Potsdam, Germany, on Sept. 18, 1919.